Friday, October 21, 2011

STS-21: Some Thoughts on Our Short Comic, The End 2

Or: Things I wish I knew then.

Hi, this is Caroline! I usually don't mind letting Graham do all the talking here, but after seeing his response to our 8-pager I wanted to talk about the art end of the project.

While this was our first comic we did together, I had been making comics for about 5 years prior, though nothing really worth sharing now. It was a hobby, and thus I was used to short-cutting. The End was the first comic I aimed to handle professionally, and I was using a whole new set of tools and materials:
-pre-lined 11x17 bristol, instead of drawing paper cut down to 8x10
-acrylic ink and nibs, instead of whatever pen was lying around

I got to play with new ideas that never popped up in my manga-esque comic from my teens: hatching, perspective, full backgrounds, light source.

But I was still fumbling in the dark really. I was mimicking what I saw professionals do. I lacked the confidence to push things a little further. And I was still too lazy to put in that little extra bit of work to really pull things together.

So here it is, my list of things I know now, that I wish I had known then:

Rulers are your friend! I didn't think it was possible to use a nib AND a ruler and I didn't really care to try. The result, sloppy hatching, squiggly lines, and hours trying to correct as much as possible in Photoshop.

Don't half-ass your hatching! Hatching should be tight and run in the same direction as your planes, not at an angle to them!

Line-width variation is key! That thing wayyyy back there should not be outlined as thickly as this thing right in front of the camera.

Don't be afraid of color! I still have to yell at myself over this. Desaturation is great when it is intended, and stands out even more when your colors have confidence elsewhere. Bright colors are nothing to fear as long as you have-

Global color unification! Light is always tinted. You can have wildly variating colors as long as you apply the same tint or filter to them all. Photoshop even has built-in tools for this (with I rely on heavily now).

Give your backgrounds the same attention you give your figures! Bad backgrounds were steps above the no-backgrounds I was used to doing, but I regret not spending more time on them now.

EDIT: and one last thing I forgot, always be mindful of where your text and bubbles need to go and how much room they will need. Pull the camera back in text-heavy panels. Try to root your figures to one side or the other to make room for text, instead of plopping them in the center with very little space on both sides. I now make notes in the margins of the bristol board if there is a lot of text for a panel or anything special like that.

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